by Thomas Gerbasi
BROOKLYN, NY -– The Battle of Brooklyn was fought in front of 9,363 at Barclays Center Saturday night, and while it ended as more of a skirmish in terms of action, the result was a dominant one for the victor, Paulie Malignaggi, as he delivered a 12 round unanimous decision win over Zab Judah.
Scores were 116-111 and 117-110 twice.
“There was a lot of pressure,” said the 33-year-old Malignaggi, who pondered retirement after a June loss to Adrien Broner before deciding to return for tonight’s bout. “You don’t want to lose at home to another hometown guy.”
He didn't. And at times he made it look easy.
Malignaggi was the busier fighter by far as the bout commenced, standing in front of Judah and flicking out jabs and the occasional straight right. Judah patiently stood in the pocket, waiting for his time to strike, but it didn’t come in the first, with Malignaggi ending the round strong with a stiff right to the face.
Judah got on the board in the second though, with a quick left producing a flash knockdown. Malignaggi vehemently protested referee Mike Ortega’s call, saying that he tripped and as “The Magic Man” subsequently went on the attack, the crowd alternated with chants for both men. Malignaggi’s jab was sharp the rest of the round, perhaps allowing him to shorten the scorecard gap from 10-8 to 10-9.
A clash of heads brought a brief halt to the action early in round three, and the rest of the round was tense, with some solid exchanges, as well as head clashes, leaving Malignaggi with a cut over the left eye.
By the fourth, it was clear that while Judah was having his moments, Malignaggi was simply outworking him, and the Bensonhurst product’s late round rallies weren’t doing Judah any favors either.
After another Malignaggi round in the sixth, Judah began to look like a 36-year-old, either unwilling or unable to pull the trigger when he needed to.
The Brownsville native did go on the attack in the seventh, seemingly sensing that the fight was slipping away, but after a fast start from Judah, it was Malignaggi putting his hard hat back on and going to work once again, taking that round and the eighth and ninth frames as well.
If Judah was going to turn things around, the tenth round would be the perfect place to start, and the former two-division world champ did throw and move with a little more urgency as the round began. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get a read on his fellow Brooklynite long enough to land a fight-altering bomb, and those once-patented Judah finishers didn’t show up in the 11th round either.
Before the final frame, Judah paced from corner to corner, sitting on his stool only for a second, and as the 12th began, he drilled Malignaggi with a hard right hand. Malignaggi clinched and reset, and it was back to his fast jabs and combinations, showing that he wasn’t content to sit on his lead. And while the boos came out as the pace dipped in the last minute, there were cheers when a fight broke out in the closing seconds following a last ditch attack from Judah that resulted in two missed punches and a near tackle.
With the win, Malignaggi picks up the NABF welterweight title and improves to 33-5 with 7 KOs. Judah falls to 42-9 with 29 KOs and 2 NC.
ON THE UNDERCARD
In taking the IBF welterweight title from Devon Alexander, Ohio’s Shawn Porter did the one thing the majority of the St. Louis native’s opponents couldn’t – he made him fight his fight. And while that fight wasn’t pretty, it enabled him to win a 12 round unanimous decision via scores of 115-113 and 116-112 twice.
There was more wrestling than fighting in the opening round, but when the two weren’t grappling, Alexander worked on timing Porter’s rushes, and he was successful more often than not, even though the challenger’s smothering responses diluted any momentum the champion was going to get.
Porter stuck to the game plan though, and he began to land more frequently in the second stanza, forcing Alexander into the unusual role of aggressor at times in order to get some payback, and this strategy worked perfectly in the third round, as Porter rocked Alexander and forced him into a firefight. But in the second minute of the round, referee Harvey Dock had seen enough holding, and he warned both men. In response, Porter staggered Alexander twice more before the bell, capping off a big round.
Some heated exchanges in round four left Alexander bloodied around his right eye, but the champion got in his share of shots as well, as he pressed the action for much of the fifth and sixth rounds.
The sloppy infighting continued in the seventh and eighth, but this type of fight clearly favored Porter, who continued to do the bulk of the work.
In the ninth, Dock halted the fight momentarily to have the doctor check a cut over Porter’s right eye, and after being cleared to continue, the challenger tore after Alexander with an even greater urgency, and while he wasn’t able to score with anything significant, what he did continue to do was force Alexander to fight his fight, and it was paying off big time.
The tenth was a close one, with Alexander rallying late to possibly steal it, but as the fight entered the championship rounds, he appeared to need more than a couple close winning rounds to retain his belt, but it just didn’t happen, allowing a new champion to be crowned.
With the win, Porter improves to 23-0-1 with 14 KOs; Alexander falls to 25-2 with 14 KOs.
While Erislandy Lara’s two trips to the canvas in his June win over Alfredo Angulo gave his fellow 154-pounders hope, Saturday night in Brooklyn, Lara was Lara again and former champion Austin Trout just couldn’t figure him out as he lost a lopsided unanimous decision that allowed the Cuban to retain his interim WBA super welterweight belt.
Scores were 118-109 and 117-110 twice.
The first round was primarily a jabbing contest, and not surprisingly, the boo birds made their presence known pretty quickly and they kept it going throughout round two, even if both fighters were able to score with the occasional power shot in the second frame.
The war of nerves, jabs, and clinches continued in round three, but Trout finally got a pop from the crowd when he landed a flush right to the face in the fourth stanza. Neither fighter was doing much to win over the people on a consistent basis though, as there was more feinting and posing than fighting.
To his credit, Trout tried to press the action in the fifth, but Lara wasn’t having it. It was the Cuban who scored with the two best punches of the frame, a pair of flush counters in the closing seconds, adding another round to the bank.
Lara rocked Trout with a left late in round six, probably his best punch of the fight to that point, and he likely told him about it as he jawed at the New Mexico native after the bell.
As the second half of the bout began, the Cuban wizard continued to baffle Trout, and in the eighth he began tagging his foe with hard overhand lefts, with the occasional right tossed in for good measure.
Trout made another run at Lara in the ninth, but his efforts were clearly coming up short against the Cuban, who looked like he was in the middle of a sparring session, and not a championship fight. But in the 11th, Lara unleashed a thudding left hand to the head, waking up the crowd and dropping Trout to the canvas. It was the icing on the cake for Lara’s dominant win, which upped his record to 19-1-2 with 12 KOs. Trout falls to 26-2 with 14 KOs.
Anthony Dirrell had his moments to become the first member of his family to earn a world title, but despite knocking WBC super middleweight champion Sakio Bika down and seeing the Australian lose another point due to a foul, the judges ruled otherwise, with a draw verdict allowing Bika to retain his crown.
The verdict read 116-110 Dirrell, 114-112 Bika, and 113-113.
The tone of the fight was set almost immediately, with Dirrell cool, calm, and accurate with his attack and Bika intent on making it a brawl, as evidenced by his early first round takedown of Dirrell. By the second, Dirrell was landing flush with power shots repeatedly, but Bika continued to march forward in an effort to land his wild haymakers, having erratic levels of success.
Dirrell did jar Bika with right hands on two occasions in round three, but he was unable to capitalize, as the Australia product cleared his head immediately and got back to brawling, which served him well in round four as Dirrell slowed down slightly, allowing Bika to do some quality work along the ropes.
The fifth started out well for the champion as well, but with under a minute left, a laser-like right kicked off a sequence that ended with Bika on the canvas. He rose on rubbery legs, but was able to survive the round, and as round six began, Bika pinned Dirrell to the ropes and opened up with both hands. Dirrell kept his guard high as Bika unloaded, periodically firing off counters of his own in response. In the final minute, all hell broke loose, with Dirrell getting rocked by a right to the jaw and the Michigan native returning the favor seconds later, bringing a roar from the crowd that lasted until the bell.
Bika outworked Dirrell in the seventh and the eighth, with the fight getting sloppier by the minute, a development which favored the champion. Dirrell got back into a groove late in the ninth though and another late round series of flush power shots likely stole the tenth round for him.
Welcoming Dirrell to the championship rounds with vicious hooks to the body, a shot to the head when he slipped to the mat, and low blow that earned him a point deduction from referee David Fields, Bika pulled out all his tricks in an effort to fluster Dirrell in round 11, but the Flint product kept his cool, knowing that in such a close fight, that point might have been the difference.
Bika agreed, going on the attack with reckless abandon in the final round, even pushing Dirrell to the canvas in the corner in the opening minute. After another warning from Fields, Bika went right back to the attack with crushing body shots as Dirrell tried to counter upstairs. With 40 seconds left, Dirrell, now bleeding over the left eye, fired off a series of right at Bika before raising his hands and running around the ring in anticipation of the victory.
Bika’s record goes to 32-5-3 with 21 KOs. Dirrell, the brother of former Olympian Andre Dirrell, moves to 26-0-1 with 22 KOs.
Junior middleweight prospect Julian Williams continued to impress with his overall fight game, needing less than three rounds to blast out Mexican veteran Orlando Lora.
Williams (14-0-1, 8 KOs) controlled the action at close range in the first two rounds, ripping off short left hooks and right crosses with ease as he slickly evaded any incoming fire from Lora (29-5-2, 19 KOs). In the third, Williams closed the show with a vicious series of shots that prompted the Lora corner to wave the white towel at the 34 second mark.
Welterweight prospect Sadam Ali made his hometown fans happy with a one-sided sixth round TKO of Jesus Selig that kept the Brooklynite’s perfect record intact.
Ali mixed up his offensive attacks nicely in the opening round, getting little in return to worry about from Selig, and while the Arizonan began letting his hands go a bit more in round two, it only opened him up to more punishment from the 2008 US Olympian, who particularly targeted the body of his opponent.
The pace dipped a bit in the third, but the outlook for Selig didn’t change, as he was still taking punch after punch from Ali throughout, and “World Kid” was especially effective in the fourth, as he pounded away with both hands.
With 15 seconds left in the fifth round, Ali finally struck paydirt with a perfect right hand that sent Selig to the canvas. Selig rose to his feet and made it to the bell, but got a long visit between rounds from the ringside physician, and after eating a combination early in round six, referee Pete Santiago intervened, halting the bout 22 seconds into the stanza.
With the win, Ali improves to 18-0 with 11 KOs; Selig falls to 12-2-1 with 6 KOs
After a rough go in his previous win over Lamont Williams in September, 2012 US Olympian Marcus Browne made short work of St. Louis’ Kevin Engel, halting his foe at the end of the first round.
Steadily putting more and more heat behind his punches as the round progressed, the Staten Island light heavyweight finally lowered the boom – or booms – with 10 seconds left, as Engel stumbled and took a knee after an accumulation of blows. He tried to rise, but the referee had seen enough, waving the bout off at the 3:00 mark.
With the win, Browne improves to 8-0 with 7 KOs; Engel falls to 20-9 with 16 KOs.
In the Barclays Center opener, Brooklyn’s own Juan Dominguez kept his unbeaten record intact with a workmanlike but fairly uneventful eight round unanimous decision over Puerto Rico’s Camilo Perez in a featherweight bout.
Scores were 78-74 and 79-73 twice for Dominguez, now 16-0 with 11 KOs; Perez falls to 9-2 with 4 stops.